Sitting quietly has never been easy for me. As a type A personality type who is always on the move and hyper focused on getting everything done immediately, the thought of sitting quietly on a cushion in the lotus position, trying to erase thoughts from my mind for an hour or more sounded painfully excruciating. This was not something I wanted to entertain for myself. I knew meditation would be good for me. I had read plenty of scientific, medical and spiritual articles on the emotional and physical health benefits of meditation. The research was intriguing. The studies outlined the changes I could expect; lower blood pressure, stress reduction, improving cognitive thinking, more focus, better sleep patterns, weight loss and a more positive outlook on life. I even listened to podcasts on how to meditate while driving to work hoping I could reap some benefits just from listening. Tomorrow was always the promise I’d make to myself to begin a practice. Tomorrow would come and go but it never seemed like the right time. I made a lot of excuses that were reasonable; I’m busy, I’m too stressed, I need to plan my morning meetings, I’m trying to get a little more sleep, too many family responsibilities, and on and on. Why was I so stuck? Why couldn’t I just try? There was no major cost in participating and it seemed everyone who did have a meditation practice seemed more calm, relaxed and happy.
Meditation seemed so elusive and mysterious to me but at its core, it really is about getting in touch with a deeper part of ourselves. There is a small inner voice inside all of us that knows exactly what we need and when we need it. Some call it intuition, our “source” or God working through us. Whatever we call it, it truly is the original GPS we can trust to guide us in the right direction. If we allow it space to be heard in our busy lives. Getting to this core at first might seem challenging but with a little commitment and the desire, anyone can do it.
So where do we begin?
There is no right or wrong way to meditate. The most important thing to do is get still. That’s it. Simply get still. Finding the way to quieting your mind comes with time. The notion of erasing all thoughts and clearing your mind is not really achievable for many of us – unless of course you are a Tibetan monk living in a monastery. As thoughts enter your mind while meditating, you will begin to see what is pressing on your mind and what might need attention in your life. Even the most painful ones hold so much important information for us. It helps to acknowledge, reflect and recognize the feelings and thoughts so we can make better, more informed decisions on what is best for ourselves. They are the road maps for our lives. Ignoring or denying them usually leads to suffering in the long term.
There are so many expectations for us first-time meditators and it rarely goes the way we had planned or hoped for. Try not to be discouraged or frustrated but find the beauty and excitement in the thoughts, feelings, memories and fantasy’s that are jumping around your mind, wanting attention. All are a part of who you are and they hold great importance, no judgement here. Do you know what motivates you now? What you crave and need to feel more settled in life? What makes you smile and feel like your creating something special for yourself and others? What’s your purpose? Where do you want to be a year from now or even five years from now? What’s the next step? Do you know? That’s what meditation offers; insight into your soul, your life, your purpose, your hopes and dreams.
What if you just sat in a quiet space for a few minutes and began to take notice of your thoughts as they enter your mind? What if you became the silent observer and notice what arises with each deep breath you inhale? Acknowledge, review, accept and bless it has been my motto. No judging. Release the urge to be the perfect meditator, to do it right. Calming the “monkey mind,” that incessant chatter we all hear and starting to focus on the breath and asking life’s big questions. Who am I? Why am I here? What is it I’m being called to do with my life? Asking these questions of myself helped me get a clearer picture of my life and how I viewed the world. It doesn’t always happen overnight and it can feel really uncomfortable to be alone with ourselves. Turn off your computer and smart phone. Just sit quietly. Don’t worry about the outcome or trying to do it perfectly. Let go of the attachment of how it will get done, just set your intention to try. And try again.
One morning I woke up and decided to give myself a 30-day meditation challenge. I wasn’t exactly sure how I would begin my meditation practice or how I would sit still for even five minutes every day but I was very determined to try. Every day I woke up a little earlier than usual and went and sat in my cozy chair and closed my eyes. I tried silent, deep breathing meditation on day. Another day I tried a guided meditation I found on YouTube.
Once I faced my fear, sat quietly on a regular basis and began listening to my intuition, that little voice inside me that was begging to be heard, I found the right path I needed to follow at this point in my life. It helped me discover my dream and I launched Soulful Connections as part of my business.
We all deserve to be heard and seen. It only can happen when we are ready to show up for our lives. How to do this? Stop and sit in the stillness. Ask the big questions. Listen for the answers and don’t judge them just be witness to what comes up. The Wisdom of You is begging to be heard. Go and follow those big dreams that lie inside of you. I will be by your side cheering you on!
My 30-Day Awareness Meditation Challenge:
One of the most gentle and approachable forms for a beginner is mindfulness meditation. The object is to observe the wandering thoughts as they drift through your mind. The intention is not to get too involved with the thoughts or judge them but simply be aware of them, let them pass and return to your breath. You can also practice a mantra you say each time your thoughts come up in an effort to refocus your mind. A mantra may be as simple as repeating; all is well or so it is.
Set a timer for 5 minutes.
1. Sit comfortably in a chair, on the floor or a cushion. Try not to lay down, chances are you will fall asleep.
2. Close your eyes gently. Soften your mouth and make sure not to clench your teeth.
3. Make no effort to control your breath, just breathe naturally and fully, expanding your stomach with each inhale. Exhale fully through your nose.
4. Focus your attention on your breath, observe how your body feels. Breath into the tight areas and sink deeper into letting go of any areas that feel restricted.
5. If your mind wanders, observe your thoughts and release them by returning your focus back on your breath.
Repeat this meditation each morning before you start your day or in the evening before bed for a full 15 minutes. Increase your meditation time as you become more comfortable with your practice.